Is the Killing of Women, Children & Infants in the Bible the Action of a Loving God Part 2

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So the question that I hope to tackle in this post is “Do we have a proper perspective on death?” Before I get to far down the road I would like say, that this is by no means a feeble attempt to goad you into feeling better if you lost someone you love. I am not seeking to make cheap excuses or to hide the tragedy of the loss of life, I will try to look at the issue of death and dying in a logical manner that maybe we could reconcile some of the perceived tragic and sometimes brutal events that seemed to be committed in the bible.

What I hope to accomplish is that you see that God’s charter is consistent throughout the bible. I also want to qualify that I am trying to write this in a brief setting that is accessible to anyone that might stumble upon this post. I could write a book going into incredible depth on this subject, so if it seems as though I’m not going as in-depth as I could you’re right  ( I would welcome your comments or questions and I promise I will respond)

So with all that being said lets dive in. When I initially looked at these text where God orders the death of these women, children and infants, I was shocked and thought wait a minute this is a little extreme here. Why would God do that,  As I thought about it and tried to align myself with God’s potential perspective, I came to the conclusion that this could be a loving act if this was the best thing for all that were involved. My next hurdle was; Ok how can death be the best thing…

Here is what I came up with, When I/we look at death we see the end of something. Generally we see the end of growth, beauty, potential, relationship… (This list can go on and on I’m keeping it short on purpose) God on the other hand, is one that is outside of time, at least the way we see it, so there is no loss, there is only fulfillment. Let me show you what I mean. Lets look at one of the things that we mourn; “potential” for example ( We can do this with anything that we could come up with on our list)

We might say in death someone loses the potential to impact the world and others. God says I am creating the most effective impact in their death. We see things in the here and now. God sees the from the beginning of creation to the end of this world all at once and he has orchestrated each life and death in a way that it might have the most effective impact. Especially in this situation that has been recorded for all to see. The question that we have to ask is what is the impact that these deaths as well as the deaths of others will have upon us. Will we carry on their legacy by telling their story and its effect on our lives and others? Or does their effect end when their life does?

You might say but they have been robbed of seeing their potential impact and understanding of how their life and death impacted others. Well the Bible speaks to this in 1 Corinthians 13:12  For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. It seems that after death that we will have a more clear understanding of our effect than we ever could when we are alive. Imagine if you could see how you actions would affect the next 4 or 5 generations would you life differently? Let me give you a snippet of an example. As a teenager I had moments where I was not as kind as I could have been to others. There response then has effected me today as I have grown in understanding. There is no way that these people could ever know the effect they had. They may even have a false view of my perception of them. I think we can all agree that on this side of the veil we are limited in our view.

Well what about the potential of relationships, When we die our relationships are severed. God see’s it as the opposite. As we live here on earth we are in a constant state of competition with one another. We misunderstand each others motivations and communications and our insecurities always cloud our ability to truly experience intimacy, trust and community. God has a plan where we will be in the most pure and perfect relationships. There won’t be competition or misunderstanding. Our security won’t be in how pretty we are or how successful we are but in whose we are. We will all celebrate the King as well as our citizenship of His Kingdom together. And our relationships won’t even be the best thing. We will be in the presence of the one who not only loves but is love. It will be glorious.

But what about their potential success you might ask? Well you have to fall back on the impact paragraph somewhat because although success in a career or anything else is ultimately just away to make us feel better about our selves, it’s a grab for significance. And for what? This could get depressing. Solomon Expressed it this way vanity of vanities! All is vanity.  What does man gain by all the toilEcclesiastes is a book that really examines this question look at Chapter 2 here. When we die is when we will receive our reward from a just God that sees the impact that your life had. They way we see success may ruin us as well as our impact. The way God sees success has eternal rewards. Well what about the potential of developing our identity? Well we are doing a horrible job at that aren’t we, People suffer from every self-induced ailment under the sun because they think they have to create an identity for themselves.

My son is 9 and already is getting lost in wanting to impress friends and teachers to perform in school and in sports. A few short years ago he could rest in just being my son, knowing that he was always loved, always protected and always provided for by his mom and dad. We don’t develop identities, we rob people of them. Your identity should rest in being a beloved child of the King.

I would like to share 3 verses with you  on death that will hopefully give you a little clearer view of how we are to see death. The first is  2 Samuel 12:22 He said, “When the child was still alive, I fasted and I wept because I thought, ‘Who knows? Yahweh may have mercy on me that the child will live.’ David mourned the dying of his son, He wanted to have time to love and invest himself in his son, to watch him grow, maybe even to watch him become a king. But he knew that the death of son was not cruel to his son. David was the one that was hurt, David was the one that in which he said maybe the Lord may have mercy on me? It is appropriate, it is good to mourn the loss of the ones that you love. But is their dying that we should mourn not their death. In death David knew his son was in a better place and that he would see him again.

1 Corinthians 15:55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” After Christ rose from the dead, we see Paul almost mocking death, for there was no more mystery, no more fear, no more power that you needed to fear or mourn. We should miss those that pass put we no longer need to question their end, They are in the hands of a loving and just God.

Of course we have to look at the easiest verse in the Bible to memorize John 11:35 Jesus wept. I love this verse because although Jesus knew he would raise Lazarus from the dead He wept, Why because he knew the pain that was caused he saw the broken hearts of those he loved. Death was is the enemy that Jesus came to overcome, it is our greatest reminder of our sin and brokeness. When those that we love die although Jesus is their security I believe he still mourns for you and for me He cares about our pain.

There is little that is better on this side of death what is, is mostly bad; selfishness, vanity and conceit. But there is something that we can do better here and that is to serve and to sacrifice, Some pour themselves out in an instant and through death and others over a lifetime.  Paul put it best in Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. I think about this verse like this to live is Christ…. His name reflected who he was, His character, His purpose, His passion. Which means while we are still here we are to be about Loving one another, bringing unity and hope to all that we run into, To lifting up those that are down and speaking truth in love to all those that we can impact. We are to be a servant to all and we are to be bold about the hope and future that is found in Him and His sacrifice.

So I am sure you noticed I have not addressed the potential or certainty of Judgment in death. You can be assured that I will peal that onion next time or this is longer than I wanted already. Today we looked at understanding death in a general sense

So our next post we will look at Does this do something for those that are being killed (are they in a better position than if they lived and what sort of judgment should they get)

Blessings

An Unconditional Love for You

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So often we feel alone and unworthy. So often we push away from the idea that we might be accepted because we can’t accept ourselves.
Here is a great reminder for you of God’s loving pursuit for us.

So thankful to my friends at Explore God for producing such fantastic resources like this video. Check them out at http://www.exploregod.com

Is the Order to Kill Women, Children & Infants in the Bible the Action of a Loving and Gracious God? Part 1

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So here we go, lets see if we can tackle what I think is one of the most controversial and maybe difficult subjects in the Bible. The idea of God commanding the killing of woman, children and infants. I will say in being someone that interacts with Atheist both on line and off. This is one of the subjects that comes back over and over again, and with that being said I had to come to a understanding of “how could a just and loving God command the killing of these people”?

So here is how my quest started. When I was a young Christian and came across these text and sought out council, I would generally just get the “His ways are higher than ours and we can’t understand why God would do these things.” Or occasionally I would get the answer that “God had to protect His people from the heathen influence of these pagan worshipers.” Although neither of these answers really sat well with me I didn’t know where to find the answers or who to ask so I came to the point of just pushing it to the back of my mind.  It seemed almost impossible to reconcile why God would kill especially the little infants, it just made no sense. 

So lets look at one of these texts and talk about it, just in case someone wants to say no God doesn’t say that. Or what he means is young men and not children or infants, It is just not so.

1 Samuel 15:3 So then, go and attack Amalek and utterly destroy all that is his! You must not spare him, but kill both man and woman, both child and nursing infant, both ox and sheep, both camel and donkey.’” The Lexham English Bible makes it pretty clear as do all the other versions, everyone is to die. 

Normally I would spend a ton of time tying in context and trying to set the stage so people can see what is going on here, And normally this is where people trip up, they don’t understand context. But sot so much here; This is pretty straight forward. There are many amazing things to be gleaned from the story and Saul’s disobedience and crazy choices of who and what he chooses to spare. But God’s command is pretty clear, Kill everything.

So why? Why would God act so cruelly, or better yet have his chosen people act so cruelly? So lets go back to this idea that His thoughts are not our thoughts, they are higher, that God’s thoughts  are elevated and superior. Isaiah 55:8-9. This doesn’t mean that we can’t understand His thoughts, but that we have to reach, that we have to be intentional to have a mind that thinks beyond what we normally would and I don’t mean being so heavenly minded that we are of no earthly good.

Here is what I mean, So many of you know I have done a ton of  hot topic discussion groups where I would take on these types of issues with no prep and just let it fly. It really helped me over the years in developing a critical thinking process that deals with this type of issue more quickly and effectively. So now I look at this type of text and think hmmm let me look at this from multiple angles. Either God is cruel and vindictive or I am missing something. Let me do an inventory of my thoughts… Let me slow down and question what are my presuppositions, where are my emotions taking me? Am I in a good position to access the text before I start questioning God? So I ask…

#1: Could this be a loving act?

# 2: Do I have a proper perspective on death?

#3: Does this do something for those that are being killed (are they in a better position than if they lived)?

#4: Does this do something for those that do the Killing?

#5: Is this supposed to do something for us?

#6: Why kill the people and the animals? is there something to having these grouped together that I am supposed to see?

There are other question that could be asked of the text but this is a good start to clearing the hurdle of God’s character. 

So #1: Could this be a loving act for everyone involved? Of course it could. Now if it is or not has yet to be determined, But could it be, yes. It has to be said that when we say love we don’t mean affection in the sense of cuddling up in front of the  fire eating chocolates together. But commitment to the affect that the action has on someone. If God is loving then what he does is best for the objects of His Love / action/ commitment. Therefore if we can see that His action is what is best for the individuals being affected then it is loving.  If we start here  this places us in a position to receive with open mind and we can determine if this God is consistent with the God we want to trust with our souls. We will control our thought and not let our thoughts control us.

Our next post we will start to determine if this is a loving action that God has taken. So be ready for  #2 Do I have a proper perspective on death? And let me just say this will get really interesting, this one always forces people to do a double take!

 

A Response to “Former Minister Finds a New, Secular Mission” In the New Your Times

So New York Times Article  today and was immediately caught between feelings of great sorrow and frustration. Great sorrow because Teresa MacBain seemed at one time to be so committed  as you can see by her statement “For me, life was about being the person who loved God and wanted to be everything God wanted me to be.” And know she seems so confused and lost in who she is supposed to be.

But I am also so Frustrated because her view of God and the Bible could not be more misconstrued. I am not sure how she would be someone that took such pride in her teaching yet had such a lack of understanding. Let me show you what I mean here.

She says that “For me, the lesson was that doubting is sinful and wrong,” she said. “If you have these things come up, you suppress them, you ignore them, you pray them away. This natural inquisitiveness and questioning is just wrong. And if I did them, I was displeasing God.” So if you read the Bible God doesn’t Punish or condemn those that question. Look at Genesis 18:22-33, God doesn’t punish Abraham for questioning Him. He reasons with him. God doesn’t ask for a blind faith but a understanding and orderly one. God is not only the Author but perfecter of our faith. He wants us to have a Faith that has a solid foundation. God doesn’t want that we would run from him in our doubts but to him. He want to be known.

in the Article where it states  “Ms. MacBain ran aground on what seemed like irreconcilable messages in Scripture. In First Corinthians alone, for example, Verse 14:34 instructed women to be silent in church, while Verse 11:5 referred to women praying and prophesying. If text is divinely inerrant, as Ms. MacBain had been taught, how could both statements be true?” This is just a case of not understanding biblical context not a contradiction.

One of the First things that you have to understand in reading the second half of Corinthians is that we are receiving a response or answers to  questions or issues in a previous letter.  See (1Corinthians 7:1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote)  You have to read the rest of the letter understanding that we don’t have all the information so we have to look at everything through this lens as well as understanding the cultural context of that time. Also we need to understand that the writing of biblical time were written to be read aloud. Most of the citizens of that time couldn’t read and there weren’t multiple copies available as there are today. That being said the beginning of the letter sets the context for the rest of the letter.  Therefore knowing 1 Corinthians 11 says woman were allowed to pray and prophesy in the Church. There were however conditions, these women were supposed to do so with an inward attitude and a outward expression of humility. And although there was a new freedom and authority for women in the Church, There were also boundaries that should be recognized.

So lets look at some of these boundaries, in 1Corinthians 14 We see in the beginning of the chapter that there were issues in the church of people getting carried away with expressing their sign gifts seeming to be more interested in their own edification or expression of spirituality than the edification of the Body, Paul is fairly firm that the congregation focus should not be on themselves but others and that their needed to be order and decency in these times of gathering . Then Paul seems to narrow in in talking about the structure and orderliness of a gathering. Now watch what happens, this is where people get confused.  Paul is writing this letter to the Churches in Corinth, at that time there were many teachers that would travel around and teach there would be individuals that came and said I have a word from the Lord that I would like to share with your gathering. The Church didn’t look like it did today, more often than not it met in homes. And it was in this context that we have to look at 1Corinthians 14: 29-30 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. 30 If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged. In this context we see that the there needed to be some authority given to the Elders that they may weigh what was said a to protect their flocks from false prophets. Part of the weighing was the the Jewish idea of midrash which means (investigation) and can consist of studying challenging and arguing,  As the Elders/ husbands might challenge or argue the ideas of the prophets the Women/Wives were to remain silent. The should refrain from challenging the others and they should wait to discuss and share with their husbands at home. It wasn’t that they had no value, it doesn’t seem like they weren’t allowed input. But there was a place and time for this to occur, in private. As I said this didn’t take away from a  woman’s ability to speak, pray or prophesy. It demonstrates that Paul is saying there are Male Elders appointed to maintain order, allow them to do their job.

It seems odd to me that even after Teresa MacBain Spoke at an American Atheist Convention that she was planning on keeping her Job as a minister. And that the NPR Article makes is sound as though she was turned against. Why would anyone keep an interview with a minister that said she is an Atheist? And Teresa I am sure that people felt betrayed and confused that you violated their trust and didn’t talk to anyone, or simply step down while you figured out what it was that you did or didn’t believe. But to book a speaking engagement and say I’m going to hell with you and then to expect to come back and take the pulpit… Although you are loved by God and His Children should love and embrace you. I can see how some may have been shook up

Is the Church like a Car Dealership? Should it be?

So, I have been out of full-time vocational ministry for few minutes now.  While I have been taking some time away to pray and consider what it is that God wants to do with me, I have resolved to taking a “tent making” position selling cars. It has been a fascinating journey to say the least. The car business is an industry full of men with incredible charisma as well as incredible pain. Many of these men are full of disdain for the ideas of God, while some are desperately hoping that God will somehow show up and to rescue them from their circumstance.   And then there are a few others that have found a way to find peace in their circumstance and they strain to walk in the storm with Jesus. But one thing we all have in common: if we come to work and don’t perform, we don’t eat.  It is in this industry that I had an interesting revelation of sorts.

Recently, I attended a conference on “Mastering the Phone” for new and follow up car sales.  I have to say, all I could think  was “Ahhhh the church needs this so bad!! what have we been doing all this time?!” Allow me to explain…  In the car world, there are many ways to buy a car.  First (and the most popular way) is to drive around and look at lots full of cars. When you do this (pull up onto a car lot), the likelihood that you will buy a car is around 17%.  It turns out that this is the hardest way for a salesperson to sell a car (no prior interaction, no establishment of trust or really understanding of need). The second way to buy a car is to research (look around online, call a dealership) and then go in.  If this is the route you take, what ever dealership you end up, the likelihood that you buy increases to 45-50%.  The reason for the increase is that you have done your research, established a little re-pore and feel more comfortable with making a commitment. Or if you have been taken care of in the past and were happy with your last purchase,  you then call your previous salesperson back and share thoughts, hopes and intentions  At that point, the likelihood increases to 70%. It is pretty easy to see by these statistics that owning phone skills is critical to being a successful salesperson and having a successful dealership, overall.

In this “Mastering the Phone” training, the instructor went over all of these imperatives (phone skills, actions and their importance) and then to demonstrate his point about the ineffectiveness of the phone skills in the industry, he proceeded to call around to the surrounding dealerships while he had the phone system piped into the conference room and show us just how horrible sales people were at pre-qualifying clientele.  In addition, no one bothered to offer help in understanding choices in vehicles, or to bring a positive perspective in the potential for treating them well on their perspective trade in.

Not only was I dying because frankly, the sales people were horrible, but I couldn’t help but see similarities in the Church. All the sales guys just hoped that the customers would come in for the big show, then they could get the “ether” (power of the experience going) and sell a car.

So I assume I might be losing some of you already for making the evil comparison of church development, and business development; but please hear me out. When people are coming to church, are we really just wanting to give them the attractional show, or is there something more that we have to provide; the idea of family and community, of care and of support. Normally we give them the big show, ask them to fill out a visitors card, then maybe we offer direction to the visitors center where we give them a free CD or a book. We stuff some brochures with limited ministry information into a gift bag, and then if they are lucky enough to be there during our small groups push, we will give them some of that as well.

After the initial visit, if you are super progressive, you send them a starbucks card in a thank you note and invite them back via email. Maybe after that you will have someone call to check out an orientation class or a new members class. But for the most part that’s it. Oh yeah, there is the stuff in the bulletin that they may look at again if they like the big show. Am I touching a nerve?

So as I listened to this trainer talk about providing the right information on the phone and website (80% of all car buyers look at your web first before they buy) I couldn’t help but think; The Church can do better. It seemed to me that we have been acting like people’s first interaction with the Church is at the service. I couldn’t help but ask; Are we are totally swinging and missing on our initial interaction? We know that most people will check out the web or call first for information before they come in? I had to check my hypothesis, So I decided I will get on-line to the “You’re New” section of some of the prominent churches in the area to see what they had posted there (for those that had them) and then I would give them a call to see how the “first touch” people did.

So here is what I found, most websites seems to be set up for the normal weekly attender. Many have stepped up and have some sort of “Your New” or “First Time” section but when you look at them with a critical eye, really they all say here is what you can expect at the big show. There is no place to interact… Its basically equivalent to the Used Car salesman saying  “Yeee haw! come on down folks we have all sorts of great cars & trucks. We will even have some balloons and coffee for ya. Go ahead and bring your kids we have a little area for them to play too.”

What would happen if we had an about you section for first time visitors? Single, Married, Children, Do they have special needs as far as parking or accessibility? Here are a list of our ministries: what would you like information on the first day? What if we allowed them to sign up to have someone meet them before service, show them how to check in their kids, explain about what might be happening that day, Communion, Special services, Get them a bible if they would like one (Or show them what app on their phone your church is going by) Buy them a cup of coffee and give them a tour, maybe we could even explain the values of small groups and give them some options in attending (maybe even introduce them to small group leaders if you have an area of interaction). You could go so far with this… You could have families sign up to have visitors sit with them or invite them to lunch later.

The possibilities are really endless. If you had people signing up to come in, you could even create the script for your designated integration specialist depending on there circumstance. They might even call and say something like “you know, I understand you might be nervous attending the first time alone and that is 100% normal. What many of our first time guests do to feel more comfortable is to invite a friend, Is there anyone you can think of that you would like to invite, or that you would like me to reach out to for you?

As I called a around the local churches, here is what I found: half had automated recordings. If you are looking for service times and directions please hit #1. The other half were quick and short with sharing service times and directions.

So I have to ask If your receptionist/ministry director/pastor answered the phone and heard someone say, “hey I’m shopping churches and wondered what time you service is this weekend?” What would your “first touch” person say? Would they say ” Our service times are at…” or, would they say

“Wow, you picked a great weekend to come in!”

“With your permission I’d like to ask you a few questions so that I can get you all the information you need to have a fantastic experience?”

Then would they help to assess the needs of the perspective attender and make sure that the right people had their name and information? Would he or she not only be able to answer questions about the mens, women, singles, youth ministries, etc… but be able to effectively promote these groups as well?

Would they say something to the effect:  “It is really important to us as a family that you feel comfortable on your first visit; would you mind sharing some of your likes and dislikes at the previous church(es) you attended?”

Do you see how this changes things? What If you were right in the middle of a capital campaign and the person was complaining about “the other churches just talked about giving money” would the person that answered the phone know how to walk them through your churches financial stewardship responsibilities in a way that was palatable, or maybe even exciting?

Of course, I haven’t even touched on the incredible follow up calls and systems that could be put in place…  Truly, the possibilities are amazing for narrowing some of the cracks that people slip through.  Although the idea of growing the church is attractive, the idea of affecting those that are having a hard time connecting should be so much more attractive.  I believe that we can do much better in gathering the sheep without a shepherd than we have in the past.

At this point you are probably either fully convinced that I should just stick to selling cars (ouch) because God grows the church and there is no place for secular techniques. Or, maybe you are thinking we might just be able to do things better, and in which case, your mind is probably roaring ahead.

If you would like to roar ahead with me, I am going to work on putting together some information to try to help the church  be more effective with their perspective visitors.  I would love your input or at least some people to bounce ideas off of. If you are one of those people comment below and we will connect and see where God takes this.

Here Are All Of The Nations That Incarcerate More Of Their Population Than The U.S.


This drives me crazy, Honestly People!!! Our over population of the prisons isn’t about Obama or privatization of the prison system or any of the other issues that I have seen casually into the comments system. It is about the tension of ideas that have been growing for decades. The tension is caused from an idea of formation and initial development and the many of the relatively current ideas of culture… The collision of these ideas are what have created the increase in crime as well as the ineffective criminal justice system that we have in place. Changing policy with out a change in cultural paradigm won’t work. We have to decide who we want to be as a country as well as who we have become before we can make changes. Currently no one wants to take point to the real issues for fear of offense. So we dance around the issues. We established a philosophy of government based in large part by the writing of Baron Charles Montesquieu (Spirit of Laws: 1748) We have built a building on a foundation that are not congruent, We need to either tear down the building and rebuild or rip up the foundation and start over. We can’t just pretend things will be ok
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost